2023 Trends: A Sneak Peek at a Vibe Conference Session

Continuing our 2023 trends series is an interview with Technomic's Donna Hood Crecca. Missed our other trends pieces? Go back and read predictions from Technomic, a look at the holidays and beyond, af&co./Carbonate's Hospitality Trends Report, and a look at flavors trending next year.

The 2023 Vibe Conference, held February 27-March 1, 2023 in San Diego, will feature some hard-hitting sessions on the state of the industry, and one that can't be missed is Technomic's "On-Premise 2023: Operators in the Hot Seat," which will be held on Tuesday, February 28, from 9:35am - 10:25am.

Donna Hood Crecca

In this session, Technomic’s adult beverage expert, Donna Hood Crecca, will  provide an update on the state of the drinks business in restaurants, hotels, and bars, and a fast-paced discussion with leading operator panelists who will share real-life learnings and best practices for dealing with inflation, labor, and other challenges while capitalizing on new growth opportunities. Panelists include:

  • Gary Gruver, director, Beverage | Global, US and Canada, Marriott International
  • Mike Lay, director of Bars, MINA Group
  • Elisa Cordova, senior beverage marketing manager, P.F. Chang's

Ahead of the Vibe conference, we caught up with Technomic's Donna Hood Crecca to get a sneak peek at 2023 trends as well as to chat about the likelihood of a blockbuster holiday season. Read the full Q&A, below!

1. What can attendees expect from your session, On-Premise 2023: Now and Next?

We’ll be sharing current data and insights around the economy, consumers, and various market dynamics that will shape the opportunity for alcohol sales growth in restaurants, hotels, and other establishments. Even as the drinks business on-premise finally fully recovers from the pandemic, its effects linger as new trends take shape.

We have a great panel of operators that will bring the data to life and share their experiences and approaches to challenges like labor shortages and supply issues, as well as capitalizing on what’s hot at the bar now and what’s on the horizon. I think there will be some real ah-ha moments for Vibe attendees, both operator and suppliers!

2. What do you foresee as being some of the top trends in 2023?

From a drinks perspective, I think we’ll see continued strength in spirits at the bar, with tequila taking center stage but vodka also enjoying new relevance. Expect ongoing innovation in cocktails involving those categories.

Premiumization takes on new meaning as consumers see ordering drinks in restaurants to be an affordable indulgence – a great position to be in as inflation will continue to be a factor; whiskey and tequila are likely beneficiaries.

Alcohol trends that started at retail – like hard seltzers and RTD mixed drinks/cocktails - will continue to find a place at the bar in some establishments.

And opportunity certainly exists to grow drink sales at various dayparts, thanks to the growing interest in low-alc options that lend themselves to lunch, brunch, and even breakfast, and provide options at more traditional dayparts for those that want lower ABV for any number of reasons.

I also think consumers are less focused on alcohol category – drink choice will increasingly be driven by factors like fit for occasion, what’s on trend at the moment, and drink flavor.

3. What do you think will be the top challenges for the on-premise in 2023?

Developing drink menus that balance consumer appeal with operational capabilities and goals in terms of sales and margin. Operators can be easily overwhelmed by the onslaught of new products and flavors now – suppliers large and small are pumping out new adult beverages, some of which simply defy traditional categories! That, combined with the inflationary environment, elevates the imperative to take a disciplined and strategic approach to drink menu development.

4. What are your predictions for this holiday season? Do you think it will be strong or lackluster?

Our tracking shows traffic softening recently as consumers look to pull back on spending in light of ongoing high inflation. Concepts catering to more affluent diners will likely see a stronger holiday season than those that draw middle and lower-income patrons. That said, when consumers do decide to go out for holiday celebrations, they’ll be looking for value in a great drink served with great hospitality.

Plan to Attend or Participate in the Vibe Conference, Feb. 27 – March 1, 2023

To learn more about the latest trends, issues and hot topics, and to experience and taste the best products within the on-premise beverage community, plan to attend the Vibe Conference, Feb. 27 to March 1, 2023 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina. Visit VibeConference.com.

To book your sponsorship or exhibit space at the Vibe Conference, contact:

Fadi Alsayegh Sales & Sponsorships Email: [email protected] Phone: 917-258-5174

Donna Bruns Sales & Sponsorships Email: [email protected] Phone: 936-522-6932

Charlie Forman Sales & Sponsorships Email: [email protected] Phone: 845-262-1041

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